Takin' on 'The Challenge': The End of the Ride

At long last, the 38th season of The Challenge has a champion, and there's nothing left but the reunion. Tori & Devin outlasted Bananas & Nany and Jordan & Aneesa to win one of the more closely-contested finals in years. We already eagerly await season 39.

Question 1: Alright, first things first: are Devin & Tori the deserving champs?

TD: The Challenge is a battle of attrition, and they are the team that survived -- and that's the name of the game. Although they may not excel at any particular facet of the game, they are good enough all-around to be have earned this victory and the title of champions. Devin can finally say he's a Challenge champion the same as Bananas or Jordan, and Tori FINALLY has the win to back up her reputation as one of the best female competitors on the show.

Blaine: Aneesa said it better than I: Devin and Tori worked well together, and for this season, that's what mattered the most. They figured that out and got it done. Devin had a focus in those last several weeks that I hadn't seen from him -- or many other competitors on the show -- in previous seasons. They beat Bananas and Nany, not to mention Jordan & Aneesa, so they deserve the full credit.

Question 2: Had Olivia & Hector not gotten medically disqualified, would they have won?

TD: I absolutely think so. They were by far the most physically-gifted team remaining, and could hold their own enough in the mental challenges of the final. It really was a shame to see them go, they were a couple of my personal favorite rookies in recent memory.

Blaine: They would've fared better than Aneesa and Jordan. None of the competitions looked incredibly taxing other than the hours spent doing them and perhaps some sleep deprivation. There was nothing in the final that Horacio and Olivia couldn't have done and done well, but that penultimate room with the cinder blocks needed more patience than stamina, it seemed. Would a rookie team put forth as much meticulous thought as Devin and Tori displayed? Hard to say.

Question 3: How does the final and the season as a whole compare to others over the last few seasons?

TD: As I mentioned last week, I'm a fan of this style of final. I agree with Blaine that there needs to be more consequence/reward to the games within the final, but overall I like the format more than the usual endurance/Iron Man/Tough Mudder style of race, where we often see one team dominate. As for the season as a whole, I was extremely happy to see the Madness/Agents/Spies theme go away, and return to a theme that directly impacts the format of the season. The split in the middle was weird, but I think I see what the producers/showrunners were going for by splitting up the duos. As always, I'd love to see the champions-only season of my dreams, but in lieu of that, I'd like to see a Free Agents 2 season. I loved how that season blended individual and team dynamics to find the best overall player. Or maybe even another Rivals season, those are always fun.

Blaine: It looks like one of the quickest show turnarounds is coming the first full week in March with The Challenge: World Championship on Paramount+ and look who's in that cast! Johnny Bananas. I'm pretty surprised to see him back at it so soon, especially since he considered retirement after his last championship win. (It's got some heavy hitters overall in the cast, by the way; not just Bananas.) Looking back on the Ride or Dies season, it seemed lacking for two big reasons: those who've come to be called the "vacation alliance" just have too much power. (You can probably guess who they are, garnering their nickname from hanging out so much with one another in beautiful locales in the off seasons.) There needs to be a limited number of those competitors on the show. They hold too much sway. Second, while the final was good in that it gave us more show, I think high-stakes drama ensues when you have one, hour-long final where it's intense and only involves a few brutal games that get viewers' hearts pounding and minds reeling. Even one, long game where both intelligence and muscle are tested would be something for the show to consider. This final for Ride or Dies was a lot of build-up and little payoff. With World Championship and All Stars on the way, hopefully we'll see some variations. But will we tire of the show as a whole with too much of a good thing?

Blaine Duncan
Blaine Duncan
Editor-In-Chief, Host of Taking It Down
TD Wood
TD Wood
Editor and host of Takin' On Sports